Review of ‘Remind Me to Smile’ by Martin Downham

A friendly, nostalgic, awkward memoir of growing up in the 70s. It’s partly about the author’s love of Gary Numan’s early work and will of course appeal to Numan fans, but there’s enough non-Numan content to give the book a broader appeal. I discovered the book by chance in my Kindle Unlimited recommendations and knew I would like it. In fact, I thought it would be one of my best reads of the year until about the halfway point. There are some very funny moments but much sadness too. Living in Surbiton (Greater London) the author mainly describes his family, love life, friends, colleagues and traipsing around record stores. ‘Remind Me to Smile’ is a song from Numan’s album Telekon (1980) and is a very apt title for the book.

I did have a few issues with this book. The content should have been limited to the author’s younger days (the subtitle is The Life and Times of a Teenage Numanoid, after all), giving it a tighter focus to avoid the uninteresting descriptions of his workplaces in the later chapters. I appreciate his honesty in sharing so much about his personal life, including illness and family losses, but perhaps the writing could have been slimmed a little. There weren’t any pictures at all. More thorough proofreading was required as there were quite a lot of errors. And finally, while he raves so much about the first few Numan albums, he’s almost silent on the later ones. Indeed, towards the end of the book, he goes whole chapters without mentioning his music idol at all.

In summary, a good read which I’m sure deserves many more readers, yet I felt that the content was somewhat uneven and didn’t quite live up to its promise.

First published in 2016 by Hornet Books, revised edition in 2022 by Poppublishing.

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